Russia warns Turkey about the comments by Erdoğan’s far-right ally

The Russian Foreign Ministry has warned Turkey about what it called provocative comments that could further escalate tensions in Syria by Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of a far-right party allied to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Russia called on Turkey “to avoid being provocative and escalating tensions in Idlib in statements about the developments in Syria,” Deutsche Welle Turkish said on Thursday. 

The Russian ministry said comments by Erdoğan’s ally, in which he held the Russian and Syrian governments responsible for the deaths of Turkish soldiers in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, were incomprehensible.

Thirteen Turkish servicemen and one Turkish contractor were killed by Syrian army shelling in Syria’s last major rebel-held enclave in a week.

“Russia is not in good faith. It is our hope that the government will reconsider relations with Russia,” Bahçeli said on Tuesday while addressing his parliamentary party. 

“If necessary, the Turkish nation should plan to enter Damascus,” he said, calling President Bashar Assad a murderer and a criminal.

Turkey accuses Russia of not honouring the terms of a 2018 agreement over Idlib, by supporting Assad’s efforts to recapture the province from jihadist groups.

Turkey has asked Russia to ensure the withdrawal of Syrian troops from positions beyond Turkey’s observation posts in Idlib, built under the Sochi agreement.

Turkish officials have increased security at the Russian Embassy in Ankara in the wake of threats addressed to Ambassador Alexey Yerkhov, Russia’s state news agency TASS reported on Friday, citing Irina Kasimova, spokeswoman for the Russian diplomatic mission in Turkey.

"Yes, it is true, tensions have escalated lately. Due to this, we asked the Turkish officials to apply additional security measures," she said.

Yerkhov, in an interview with Sputnik Turkish on Thursday, criticised comments by Turkish social media users and said that he had received direct threats.